Rugby gains national title, new coach
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 17:01
Arkansas State University sports have grown tremendously in the past five years. The Red Wolves Rugby Club is no different. They earned the title of College 7’s National Champions, runner-up in the 15’s and were just recently awarded the College Team of the Year Award by This is American Rugby.
“Many of our players have represented higher level teams such as All America, USA U20 and USA A,” team captain Shaun Potgieter said. “I think all of these factors, including our drive has contributed to us getting named College Team of the Year.”
The club may be a small program, but they have accomplished a great amount with hard work and dedication. This feat marks the second national title for an ASU athletic team. The 1970 football team with a perfect 11-0 record won the first.
Senior backup fly half Cody Crawford said he is proud of the team’s achievements.
“I was extremely pleased because we’ve put in so much hard work and dedication. We, as a team, are always striving to be the best,” Crawford said.
Not only have they done well as a team, several of their players were selected as All-Tournament Team members. The three who received the honor were Shaun Potgieter, Dean Gericke, Zinzan Elan-Puttick. Zac Mizell was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The success of the team is not the only exciting news for ASU Rugby. Alex Houser, who was the assistant coach for the team last year, has accepted the head coaching position for the Red Wolves rugby team. He is taking over the program from Matt Huckaby who has decided to spend more time with his job in Large Scale Distance Education operations at ASU.
“I’m very excited. Working with Matt throughout the year as his assistant, I learned a lot from him. Being a head coach is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing rugby at 14. This is a culmination of that dream,” Coach Houser said in a press release.
Huckaby passed the team to Houser last fall and he led them to win the 7’s championship. Potgieter knows the team is undoubtedly in good hands.
“Coach Houser is an excellent thinker and has a great deal of knowledge about the game. He has been involved with many winning programs in the past, so he has first hand experience and definitely uses that to guide, motivate and prepare us for the season,” Potgieter said.
Houser said he wants the team to establish an identity and culture that the players can take ownership of.
“When people hear ASU Rugby, we want them to think hard working, academics, respect and a team that will compete and contest everything all the time,” Houser said.
The team is already preparing for the spring season by working out and practicing doubles. A preseason match is scheduled Feb. 2 in College Station, Texas when they play Texas A&M, marking the beginning of season matches.
It’s an exciting time for the ASU Rugby Club as they compete to win the Division 1 National Championship, which would give them two national titles in one year.